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Tropical Storm Chantal Eyeing US Coast

4:38 PM, Jul 9, 2013   |    comments
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Tropical Storm Chantal raced across small islands in the eastern Caribbean on Tuesday as officials issued a hurricane watch for the southern coast of the Dominican Republic.

The storm was centered about 335 miles southeast of Puerto Rico around 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and was moving west-northwest at 29 mph.

Officials in Dominica reported that heavy winds ripped off the roofs of several homes. But no injuries were reported in Dominica, or anywhere else in the region.

"It's getting rough out there," said Conrad Ceasar, an emergency management official for Dominica's southern region. "Some parts of the island are without electricity."

The government cancelled the country's ferry service and closed airports, and National Security Minister Charles Savarin said government offices would close at noon. "Chantal is a serious storm," he said.

Chantal was expected to move away from the Lesser Antilles late Tuesday and be near or over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, according to the Hurricane Center.

Chantal could be near hurricane strength before it reaches Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Both countries are vulnerable to flooding and landslides from storms, but widespread deforestation and ramshackle housing in Haiti mean even moderate rains pose a significant threat.

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